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Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

Three Parts Dead - Max Gladstone

Tara barely graduated and was, in fact, kicked of of school upon gradation. Still, she managed to land a provisional job with a firm. Her first task is to use her Craft to find out how and why the fire god Kos died. The city of Alt Coloumb, once powered by the fires of Kos, is slowing down; soon, there may be riots, or worse.

This is a wonderfully complex tale, full of the imaginative (using star-light fired Craft to argue legalities), the unexpected (gargoyle protectors and vampire sailors), and the impertinent (Tara, our lead character). The world in which Alt Coulumb is set is big, but thankfully, the author has nearly all the scenes set in the city itself. There is a lot going on this world and this city is a great place to get some of the basics down. In a world of multiple deities, and some dead ones, we also have the once-human Deathless Kings, vampires, Stone Men, Wardens, and much more. There is plenty here to keep the reader entertained.

The magic system does take some getting use to. At first, we learn a few bits and bobs and then just have to believe it works. As the story unfolds, Tara, and her mentor Lady Elayne Kevarian, explain more of the mechanics to Abelard, a priest of Kos. Abelard doesn’t need to know how Kos’s power works; faith alone is enough for him. However, he can’t help but be curious as to what Tara is doing with her powers, and the body, in figuring out the mystery of who is responsible. So don’t worry too much about the mechanics of the Craft. Much will be revealed, a little won’t; but it’s all entertaining and worthy.

Tara herself is a joy to follow around. She has a sense of humor, a strong idea of write and wrong, and just enough crazy to jump in with eyes closed when that seems like the quickest route (or the only way). She was a wonderful character to explore this new world with. Her partner in justice, Abelard, was also fun, but in a different way. He approaches life quite a bit differently, through faith, and leather pants. Then there was Lady Kevarian – who may be good, may be evil, or simply might be on Tara’s side for now because it is convenient. I like having characters like this in the mix – they keep me (and the characters) guessing.

With more than one dead body to mess with, Tara has her hands full. Then toss in the Wardens, the Stone Men, and some other hazardous beings and you have a very good time (even if Tara doesn’t, running around constantly trying to keep herself alive).

The Narration: Claudia Alick was a good fit for Tara. She gave her the right mix of sincere quest for the truth and a shrug of the shoulders as you dive off the cliff.  She had a variety of male and female voices, plus really spooky voices for some of the not-quite-human beings we run into.